AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND.- Passion & Politics: Two Centuries of British Art features over 140 works by greats like Gainsborough, Hogarth, Reynolds and Turner. Take an epic journey through this grand era, traversing emotions from passion and love to betrayal, loss and despair. Immerse yourself in a world of elegant costumes, opulent fabrics and exotic animals in gilded frames. Curator Mary Kisler says British painting reached new heights under the British School of Art which emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries.
British painting has not played such a critical role in European culture before or since. Paintings that might seem traditional today were at the time as radical and progressive as the society from which they came. Colonial Britain not only ruled the waves but also dominated world politics and economics. A new wealthy class had emerged who supported modern themes. Ordinary life became a legitimate subject for art. Satirists lampooned kings and country folk in equal measure. Painters adopted a naturalistic style inspired by the spirit of scientific enquiry central to the Age of Enlightenment. These works from the gallerys substantial collection are a rich and satisfying record of a triumphant age.